VEGI - Value-directed Evolutionary Genomics Initiative

Contact Information

    Dr. Thomas Bureau
    Department of Biology
    McGill University
    1205 Docteur Penfield Ave.
    Room N4/1
    Montreal, Quebec
    CANADA H3A 1B1

    Office: (514) 398-6472
    Fax: (514) 398-5069
    thomas{dot}bureau{at}mcgill{dot}ca

Principal Investigators


Project Leader

Thomas Bureau, PhD
Department of Biology
McGill University, Montreal

e-mail: thomas.bureau{at}mcgill.ca


Dr. Thomas Bureau’ s research interests center around the molecular evolution of genes and genomes, with an emphasis on the involvement of mobile elements in the evolution of developmentally important genes. Mobile elements, also referred to as transposons and transposable elements, are traditionally thought of as parasitic selfish DNA. However, a new paradigm is emerging revealing that mobile elements may have a benefit for the host. Dr. Bureau’s current research involves the identification and functional characterization of transduplicated and transduced gene fragments within mobile elements and the developmental role of domesticated mobile elements. Transduplication and transduction is the process by which mobile elements capture or duplicate host genes and gene fragments. Domestication refers to the recruitment of mobile elements for host-specific functions.

Project Manager
Adrian Platts
   
Project Team Members

   

Mathieu Blanchette, PhD
McGill Center for Bioinformatics
McGill University, Montreal

e-mail: blanchem@mcb.mcgill.ca

Mathieu Blanchette's lab focuses on the development of algorithmic and machine learning approaches to biological sequence analysis. He is particularly interested in the analysis of transcriptional regulation, in particular the prediction of transcription factor binding sites and regulatory modules, as well as in splicing regulation.

Dr. Blanchette’s role in the project is to identify evolutionary conserved regions (comparative genomics) in collaboration with Drs Moses and Harrison.

Ken Dewar, PhD
Department of Human Genetics
McGill University, Montreal


Dr. Ken Dewar has been a Professor at McGill University and a principal investigator at the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre since 2002. Focussing on large-scale genomics, Dr. Dewar studies genomic structures of primates in order to discern key evolutionary events, as well as the genomes of virulent microbes that will aid in developing treatments. Dr. Dewar led the team which sequenced the deadly C. difficile strain residing in Quebec hospitals. Currently, he is involved in characterizing the genome of the vervet monkey.

Dr. Dewar is responsible for the sequencing of the different Brassicae genomes.

Paul Harrison, PhD
Department of Biology
McGill University, Montreal
email: paul.harrison@mcgill.ca


Dr. Paul Harrison is Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology (McGill University). His current major areas of interest are the Analysis of genome & proteome evolution ; annotation of genomes & proteomes and the analysis & simulation of protein folding, amyloidogenesis & prions.

Dr. Harrison, together with Drs Blanchette and Moses is responsible for the annotation of the newly sequenced genomes and for the comparative genomics.

Alan Moses, PhD
Department of Cell and Systems Biology
University of Toronto

email: alan.moses@utoronto.ca

Dr. Alan Moses is interested in evolutionary differences between organisms, especially the ones that  are due to changes in regulatory sequences. He is using statistical methods to analyse how regulatory sequences evolve and has developed computational methods to predict new regulatory elements based on their DNA and protein sequences. Mathematical models of molecular evolution to predict how natural selection and genetic drift affect mutations in functional sequences were developed.

Dr. Moses, together with Dr Blanchette and Harrison is responsible for the comparative genomics component of the project.

Dr. Anwar Naseem, PhD
Department of Agricultural Economics
McGill University

email: Anwar.naseem@mcgill.ca

Dr. Anwar Naseem's specialization is in the fields of Economics of science and technology, impact and regulation of agricultural biotechnology, intellectual property rights, modeling mixed R&D oligopolies; International agricultural development, the role of private sector in agricultural R&D, science policy.

Dr. Naseem is responsible for the GELS component of the VEGI project by evaluating the economic effects of the selected traits in Canola.

Daniel J. Schoen, PhD
Department of Biology
McGill University, Montreal
email: dan.schoen@mcgill.ca

Dr.  Dan Schoen iis the W.C. Macdonald Professor of Botany. He works on a diverse array of evolutionary topics, mostly in plants, but also in the nematode, C. elegans.  His lab is presently investigating the evolution of reproductive systems in the mustard genus Leavenworthia. He has also conducted studies on the evolution of mating system and mutation rate with members of the genus Amsinckia, a group of annual species that exhibit wide variation in their mating system.

Dr. Schoen, along with Dr. Wright, will be concentrating on the population genomics component, will help to identify sequences that are under selection and is part of the validation/phenotypic studies.

John Stinchcombe, PhD
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Toronto
email: john.stinchcombe@utoronto.ca

The Stinchcombe Lab was founded at the University of Toronto in September 2005 and studied plant evolutionary and ecological genetics, using morning glory, Jewelweed, Arabidopsis, and Medicago as a model systems. The research in his lab has two complementary aims: First, uncovering how ecological factors such as climate, abiotic resources, competitors and natural enemies shape the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of plant traits and populations; and, second, determining how these ecological and evolutionary patterns are constrained, modified, or facilitated by genetic factors such as trade-offs or the functionality of major regulatory genes. We use an integrative approach, and attack problems from multiple perspectives, utilizing ideas and tools from usually distinct areas of biology, including community and population ecology, quantitative genetics, evolutionary biology, and genomics.

Dr. Stinchcombe is responsible for the for the functional genomics component of the project together with Drs Bureau and Wright.

Stephen I. Wright, PhD
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Toronto

email: stephen.wright@utoronto.ca

Dr. Stephen Wright’s primary research interests concern understanding the forces driving patterns of nucleotide polymorphism and genome evolution in natural plant populations. He is particularly interested in questions such as: 1) What is the relative importance of mutation vs. natural selection in driving the evolution of genome structure? 2) How do population history and mating systems influence the structuring of genetic variability and the effectiveness of natural selection? 3) What is the rate and strength of adaptive evolution and deleterious mutation, and what is their genetic basis? I use several main approaches to address these questions, including the collection and analysis of DNA sequence polymorphism and molecular evolution data, the analysis of large-scale genome sequence information, and the use of population genetic theory for testing hypotheses and understanding empirical patterns. These approaches are applied in a comparative context, making use of both model and non-model organisms, to understand the forces driving differences within and among genomes in patterns of genome diversity and structure.

Dr. Wright is responsible for the population genomics  and gene expression studies, and is involved in coordinating the comparative genomics section and integrating these results with the population genomics results.

   



 Last update: April 2, 2013